Director’s entrepreneurial spirit boosts the Launch Pad

Brian Breslin is director of the LaunchPad at the University of Miami. Photo: Evan Garcia/University of Miami
By Kelly Montoya

Brian Breslin is director of the LaunchPad at the University of Miami. Photo: Evan Garcia/University of Miami

Director’s entrepreneurial spirit boosts the Launch Pad

By Kelly Montoya
Brian Breslin is an innovative leader who became an entrepreneur at 15. He brought his expertise to the Launch Pad—the University of Miami’s business support center—where he became its leader in 2017.

At the age of 14, while he was a student at Coral Gables High School, Brian Breslin developed an early interest in blogging. 

“The internet was a Wild West back then,” said Breslin, referring to 1996. “The term blog didn't even exist.” 

Breslin’s hobby would later evolve into a tech start-up, Mac Mania, and give him his first dose of entrepreneurship at 15 years old. “We built an ad network for blogs back in 1997. It was the first time I experienced dealing with hiring employees, payroll, and paying taxes,” he said. 

Breslin’s entrepreneurial spirit, startups, and innovation brought him to the Launch Pad in 2017, when he was appointed director. The support center at the University of Miami helps enterprisers start and build businesses. 

Recalling how his ventures started, Breslin said that the revenue from his first company gave him the opportunity to attend and graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. Afterward, he decided to move back to Miami and start his second venture. 

“When I came back in 2004, I came back with the idea of starting a new business, so I started building software for companies around Miami,” he said. “I got into the logistics and transportation space and dedicated the next 16 years to building custom software for that industry.” 

While working in the tech sector, Breslin realized that there wasn’t a space in Miami for like-minded individuals, so he took the initiative to host his first tech meeting. “The first meeting I hosted in 2016 was out of a need to connect with other tech colleagues and entrepreneurs,” he said. 

The meeting ended with everyone saying, “this was fun, let's do this again next month,'' recalled Breslin. That was the moment when Breslin realized that once again, he had started something. The monthly meetings became known as Refresh Miami, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting Miami's tech scene and startup community. 

Using his expertise, the director and his team at the Launch Pad have helped more than 2,000 self-starters during the past four years. 

Even through the lockdown days of the pandemic, the Launch Pad was able “to support nearly 300 entrepreneurs virtually by adding webinars, Zoom meetings, and increasing online content,” said Breslin. “We adapted and made sure we developed the proper digital resources to help students, alumni, faculty, and staff commercialize their ideas, because this is a free service for life.” 

The Launch Pad was created in 2008 by University faculty members who understood that not all students were cut out for a traditional 9 to 5 job upon graduation. The concept then became a national model. 

“Back in 2008 the Blackstone Foundation licensed the model from UM and spread it to 30 other universities and colleges across the globe,” explained Breslin. 

The director’s biggest goal for the Launch Pad right now is to “remove all the barriers and stigmas to starting a business for the UM community and to leverage all the assets we have available to help people with their existing businesses,” he said. 

Breslin has seen the Miami Tech scene evolve significantly in the past 12 years and said that he believes the current momentum is a great opportunity for the University to reverse the brain drain for talent who would otherwise leave Miami to pursue opportunities in other cities. 

“The U has a ton of intellectual property and talent at its disposal. It also has the geographic advantage of being in the center of the tech topic. With over 5,000 tech jobs opening up in the Miami market over the next few months, this is the time to pipeline our graduates into these positions,” he pointed out. 

Since his early start in the Miami tech scene in 2006, Breslin always sought to create a Miami he wanted to live in—and that’s finally coming to fruition. Now, as Miami  continues to see unprecedented momentum on the tech front, his vision is aligned with that of Mayor Francis Suarez’s for building and sustaining an innovation ecosystem. 

“Seeing people bringing their ideas to life, their pride and joy, when they share their creations with the community and then getting interest from investors, partners, or team members, really reinforces why I do what I do,” he said.

“Miami is a very young and malleable city and as a first-generation Miamian, I'm happy that this is happening. I think this is good for the locals, the overall ecosystem, the universities, and all the Miami institutions,” he added.